In this article, we are comparing the popular audiophile soundcards from Creative – Sound BlasterX AE-5 vs Sound Blaster Z vs AE 9. Let us examine the specifications and see how they fare against each other.
When we begin discussing the gaming audio market, the first thing or the manufacturer that would come to our mind is Creative and Asus a distant second. It has been creating history with its wide range of products set to enhance and improve your gaming audio experience further ahead. We will explore the three products from Creative and compare them together. The three products from Creative that would compare in today’s post would be Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 vs Sound Blaster Z vs AE 9. Read along to know more!
Creative SoundBlaster AE-5 – An overview
If you consider yourself an audiophile and a gamer, you will find the Creative SoundBlaster AE-5 an exceptional choice. The Creative SoundBlaster AE-5 is a formidable choice and a compact option that measures just around 145 x 20 x 128 mm. The audio card connects via the PCIe serial interface.
The PCB is covered with a thin sheet of metal. This is done to provide access to an aesthetic appeal and protection to the insides of the audio card. The software suite for the sound card comes with four options – home, EQ, voice, and lighting. Each of them would be indicative of the functionality that they offer. The Home tab provides you access to multiple presets and quicker options. The EQ tab lets you play with the graphical EQ. The voice tab should help configure your microphone output, and the lighting tab is designed for setting the RGB lighting options.
What about audio performance and listening experience? It does come with a discrete amplifier labeled Xamp. It amplifies each audio channel separately. Creative recommends opting for headphones with impedance ranging across 16-600Ω. The performance experienced on most of the high-end headphones have been observed to be an excellent option.
The surround sound performance is impressive enough. The virtual 7.1 surround sound experience should be one of the best options. For the playback settings, the Creative SoundBlaster AE-5 offers support for up to 32-bit 384Khz playback. That should be an extra benefit and something you would find interesting. However, it may not be a feature you would find useful in terms of a gaming-centric sound card powered by PCIe interface.
The pricing could be a concern for most of the buyers. Not many of the users would be willing to spend that much of an amount for the product. It may be a good idea to pay the amount on a new graphics card.
- It provides you access to a high-quality sound performance
- Capable of driving headphones with impedance up to 600 Ohms.
- Adequate software support handles all the audio tweaks effectively.
- Aesthetic and interesting design.
- A separate audio card may or may not be a good option.
Creative SoundBlaster Z – A Concise Review
Creative SoundBlaster Z is one of the oldest standing audio cards that has become a formidable and practical choice. The sound card comes powered by SoundCore3D processor. The soundcard is available with a PCI Express x1 configuration. That can perhaps be an excellent option for you if you are looking to integrate the 5.1 sound card. They can be an excellent option to suit small form factor PCs.
It should be the smallest and cheapest option for the new-gen sound cards from Creative brand. Of course, if you are an audiophile, you would not find the features that would appeal to you. However, the features and functions offered by the sound card best suited for you if you are looking to the best functionality for a gaming sound card.
The software packs in an efficient option in the form of Crystal Voice system. It provides you access to an enhanced noise reduction and post-processing interface. The noise reduction mechanism works great and does an excellent job in working out an efficient option of canceling out almost every kind of unwanted noise.
Tests with multiple headphones and games indicate a decent performance. It sounds quite good enough even with the software features turned off. The audio quality is quite transparent and provides you access to a satisfactory performance across multiple headsets or headphones. The headphone amplifier works quite good enough.
- The audio card provides you access to a great set of features at the price that it is made available.
- An excellent gaming performance.
- Headphone amplification offers an excellent headphone performance
- It comes with a quality microphone as part of the package.
- Driver suite consumes too much of RAM
- Headphone gain may not be sufficient in many cases
Creative SoundBlaster AE-9 – What does it pack in?
The latest offering from Creative, the SoundBlaster AE-9 should be a great option and features everything an audiophile may be looking forward to. The audio card comes with advanced features and designed as an upgrade to SoundBlaster AE-5.
You have access to the same Sound Core 3D chip as on the SoundBlaster AE-9. It features an external DAC in place of the on-chip digital-analog converter. It comes with a rating of 129dB signal-to-noise ratio. You have access to the ESS Sabre 32 digital-analog converter. The AE-9 provides you with an excellent upper hand in terms of control that it allows you through the operational amplifiers. You also have access to XAMP, which amplifies each of the stereo channels in a separate manner.
The sound card is a little expensive. The audio card has not yet been launched. It is expected to go on shelves by the end of July 2019. Given the fact that you can have access to a video at almost at that price point, we would consider the price quite expensive enough. The CleanLine technology will ensure that it lets you filter and isolate noise that will ensure that you have access to crystal precise sound performance.
You have access to a perfect option for audiophiles with access to swappable op-amps to enhance the tonal characteristics. Surround sound performance offered by the audio card should be what makes it one of the perfect performers. The support provided by the Creative SoundBlaster AE-9 for the discrete 5.1 surround channels and up to 7.1 virtual surround channels is what would make it a choice you would want to focus on.
- Excellent audio output and quality
- A unique virtual surround sound 7.1 performance.
- A considerable number of IO connectivity options
- Native surround sound technology
- It comes with an expensive price tag
- Recording from multiple sources may not be possible
The Comparison Chart: Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 vs Sound Blaster Z vs AE 9
Having gone through the concise review of each of these three audio cards from Creative, here is a complete comparison between the three sound cards in a side by side comparison. This would be an excellent option to understand the features offered by each of the competing sound cards.
|Features and Particulars||Creative SoundBlaster AE-5||Creative SoundBlaster AE-9||Creative SoundBlaster Z|
|Power||PCIe bus power, +5V for Aurora lighting||PCI-e bus power, +12V for ACM||PC – PCI-e x1|
|Audio Technology||Sound Core3D||Sound Core3D||Sound Core3D|
|Maximum channel output||5.1 channel and virtual 7.1 channel output||5.1 channel and virtual 7.1 channel output||5.1 channel|
|Connectors||1 x 1/8-inch Microphone / line-in|
1 x 1/8-inch Headphone / headset out (Xamp)
1 x 1/8-inch Front out 1 x 1/8-inch Rear out
1 x 1/8-inch Center / Sub out
1 x Optical S/PDIF out 1 x HD Audio front panel header
1 x RGB LED header (supports 5V RGB strips)
|1 x TOSLINK Optical In, 1 x TOSLINK Optical Out,|
1 x 1/8″ Rear Out,
1 x 1/8″ Center / Sub Out,
1 x ACM Link, 1 x 6-pin PCI Express (PCI-e) Power Header (required for ACM),
2 x RCA (L/R) Front Out
|1 x Amplified 1/8″|
3 x 1/8″ mini jacks
1 x TOSLINK
1 x TOSLINK input
1 x Shared 1/8″ mini-jack
|Physical Dimensions||NA||Main Card: 178 x 22 x 127 mm,|
Audio Control Module (ACM): 150 x 128 x 65 mm
|145 x 20 x 128 mm|
|Operating System support||Windows® 7, Windows® 8, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 10||Microsoft® Windows 10 32 / 64 bit, Windows 8.1/8.0 32 / 64 bit, Windows 7 32 / 64 bit||Windows® 7, Windows® 8, Windows® 10|
That was the complete comparison between the best options and features of the Creative SoundBlaster sound cards across the AE-5 vs Sound Blaster Z vs AE 9. We would assume that the features examined here should provide you with an insight into which among the above three options should you go with. Of course, the SoundBlaster Z is six years old, and it may be practical enough to go with either SoundBlaster AE- 5 or SoundBlaster AE- 9 as of now. If you are eyeing the Creative SoundBlaster AE-9, it should be available by the end of July 2019.
In essence, all three audio cards come from Creative and provide you access to similar service quality and functionality. Just make sure what you want to achieve with your sound card and choose it wisely enough.
We hope you like our article on Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 vs Sound Blaster Z vs AE 9. Your suggestions are welcome in the comments section below. Thanks for your visit!
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